A look back at last year’s predicted finish

It’s time to trot out that annual favorite, our preseason power rankings, in which we analyze the talent on our 12 teams post-draft and predict how they’re going to finish.

But first let’s take a look back at last year’s predictions and see how they turned out.

One year ago we said:

Wisconsin is going to kick our butts this year. Applegate’s evaluation shows the Warhawks have far and away the best offense in the league. Combine that with the third-best pitching and you’ve got a tandem that looks unbeatable, particularly in the South Division.

Wisconsin did indeed have a strong year with 90 wins but it was Savannah that dominated the division with 96. (Final standings)

Coming in at No. 2 in the overall rankings is the expected North Division powerhouse, the Springfield Isotopes.

You’ll recall that Springfield was part of that frantic final-month finish involving Tropical and Hickory, with the Heat pulling away for a three-game margin (90-87) over the Isotopes. Still, the Isotopes did make the playoffs.

In fact, the six teams that made the playoffs were in the top eight of our preseason ranking. The misfires:

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Checking out last year’s draft retention rate

With the 2011 draft now less than two weeks away, have you ever wondered just how many of those players we draft actually have staying power? How many of them are retained for the following year?

And you would think that early-round players are much more likely to be retained than later-round players, wouldn’t you?

To find out, we went back and looked at the 168 players taken in the 2010 draft, and compared them to the current pre-draft rosters. (Returning players are highlighted in yellow.) We found only 69 players had been carried over, just 41%.

The analysis found:

* Two players taken in the first round, Chone Figgins and Aaron Hill, were such busts that they were not retained. Ten players were retained.

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Savannah chops up Nuts for 2010 World Series crown

Steve Hart's Savannah Scorpions take home the trophy for 2010The Savannah Scorpions worked their ninth-inning magic in back-to-back games to gain momentum, then counted on big fellas Josh Johnson and CC Sabathia to carry the load the rest of the way, defeating the Hickory Nuts in five games to win the 2010 I-75 League World Series.

Hickory had won the opener 4-1 as Justin Verlander went the distance, but Savannah reeled off four wins in a row to take home the crown.

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Can’t get much more dramatic than this!

With one month to go in the 2010 I-75 League season, multiple dramatic finishes are poised to unfold:

* The North Division championship has Springfield and Tropical in a dead Heat at the 140-game pole, each with 78 wins. With Hickory managing just eight wins in August, the Isotopes and Heat have once again leap-frogged the Nuts to lead by three games with 20 to go.

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North shuffles and tightens; Detroit hurdles SGP in South

One month ago as we analyzed the August schedule, we warned:

Will Springfield come back to the pack in August? Possibly: The Isotopes face a schedule showing three 50-win opponents, plus Bismarck, coming off a 13-7  month.

That proved to be prophetic as the then-first-place Isotopes had their worst month of the season, going 7-13 one month after going 14-6, and falling out of first place.

Your new South Division leader: The Hickory Nuts, one of three teams in the league to post 12-8 marks in August as the league’s top record.

Springfield is just one game off the pace though, and Tropical two back, in a terrific three-way race. Bosh-wood — er, Bushwood — is six games back and not throwing in the towel, especially now with Stephen Strasburg less attractive as the No. 1 overall pick.

Over in the South Division, Savannah and Wisconsin were the other two teams to go 12-8, and thus the Scorpions maintained their hair-thin one-game lead. But making a move into playoff position were the Detroit Demolition Dogs, who finally have overtaken the South Grand Prairie Warriors for third place, but by the margin of just one game.

The September schedule affords Tropical a chance to makes its move, with only Wisconsin (at home) on the docket as a foe with a winning record.

Detroit’s position as a playoff team could be short-lived, alas, as the Demo Dogs face a murderous September schedule of Tropical, Springfield, Hickory and Savannah — all with 65 wins or more.

Who were the trade deadline winners?

Only one trade was consummated Saturday night by the midnight deadline, so it was extended a while longer to accommodate some slow-moving managers, and three more deals got done in “extended time.” Thank God we didn’t have to resort to corner kicks.

The complete trade rundown can be found elsewhere on the site; our job here is to evaluate the July deals and declare who gained the most advantages for this year and next.

1. Tropical, locked in a tight three-way battle for the Northern Division crown, acquired a No. 1 starter in Dan Haren and league slugging leader Adam Lind from Applegate; then added a treasured high on-base top-of-the-order player in Bobby Abreu from Margaritaville.

2. Detroit bolstered its chances of beating out South Grand Prairie for the third playoff spot in the South by picking up slugging second baseman Aaron Hill and clutch utility infielder Casey McGehee from Margaritaville.

1. Margaritaville, already looking to have a formidable offense, plugged a catching hole with Geovanny Soto from Tropical, and added a five-tool second baseman in Brandon Phillips from Detroit.

2. Superior bolstered its 2011 offense too, acquiring 1B Billy Butler from Hickory and OF Marlon Byrd from Savannah.

3. Applegate added the single biggest bat to change hands, with potential MVP OF Josh Hamilton coming over from Tropical.

Don’t forget to adjust your rosters in the Yahoo league.

Need a trade recap?

As trade talks continue to percolate, remember that you can always find an up-to-date rundown of all trades on our trades page.

The trade-a-thon is set for 8 p.m. to midnight ET in an AOL chat room tonight.